Words by Jimmy Glinster
Here we have our buddies from across the ditch, the mighty, and mighty young, Alien Weaponry. Once rated as the “Hottest Young Metal Band In The World” and one of “5 Bands Most Likely to Break Out In 2021” the young kiwi lads have dropped a brand-new full length album on us titled Tangaroa, or for us lame ass English-speaking bastards, The
God of the Ocean. Yeah, I googled that, but let me have it.
Fuck me, I might be googling a few of these track titles by the look of it, as 6 of the 12 tracks appear to be in Moari or Te Reo as it’s called. You’d think I’d know a few of ‘em being just a short swim away, but we don’t even teach our own native language here, let alone the choice dialect of our close neighbours. It’s great to see these guys representing their homeland and people so strongly though, unlike us ungrateful bastards … well some of us.
Not us at Heavy though, we are all good folk, even if I do say so myself. So, the music, yeah, the music, let’s get stuck into that! The album opens with a track titled Titokowaru which after another quick google was a Maori leader, prophet and peacemaker.
The song kicks off with the calming sounds of the ocean and a tribal chant. Now I’d like to be able to tell you what it’s all about, but the chant and the song lyrics are all in Moari which we’ve already determined that I have absolutely no understanding of. The track is slow but heavy, and occasionally the guitars pick up the pace with thrash riffs riding over the tribal groove of the drums. In the outro of the track, we hear a djent influence unravel over the groove.
After a few chirps of the local birdlife, some very tightly chugged triplets introduce us to Hatupatu. Hatupatu was the youngest of four sons, cruelly treated by his elder brothers, who despite this grew up to become a chief. Yeah, I googled that too. This is becoming quite educational, and I’m starting to get lost in Wikipedia trying to research all this. Meanwhile, the sweet sound of chugged triplets continues through my studio monitors. This is such an interesting band to listen to with their interweaving grooves and thrash undertones.
Ahi Ka is up next, and it picks up the pace from the get-go before jumping into a grooving bounce riff. Ahi Ka translates to burning fires of occupation or continuous occupation. We hear some words from the queen mid-track about how much she feels at home in New Zealand. Loving the riffs in this one, so much heavy bounce and groove!
Title track Tangaroa kicks off with another banging groove riff, and we get our first taste of English lyrics in the verses of the song. Clean vocals even, fancy that. The choruses return to the Maori language for a quick reality check before we get slapped in the face with some heavy groove again. This song reminds me of something, but it’s far too original to make any fair comparisons.
Unforgiving, I am not, because I don’t have to google the meaning of this track name. The soothing sounds of rain and thunder surround the acoustic beginnings of the track, and we hear some emotive lyrics. The track kicks into gear around the 4-and-a-half-minute mark, and we start to hear some lead guitar work as well as neat little solo.
Next up, Blinded, another track name that I don’t have to google. A few heavy chugs get us started before the band kicks into a rolling cycle of gallops and triplets. Absolutely loving the original rhythm patterns and tribal overtones throughout every track. This track has a very catchy and melodic chorus, which is another great twist to the sounds we hear earlier on the album. It’s great to hear a band that is not stuck on a single formula, there is some great
experimentation and genre integration within this band’s musical plethora.
Kai Whatu opens with some pretty serious heavy chugged riffage before pulling back to a punchy jabbed drum and bass section. The lyrics are again in Maori, and I really wish I knew what they were saying, as I’m sure that would help me enjoy the songs more. Kai Whatu translates to “Native Food”, and if this is the native food, then I can confirm that it’s pretty damn tasty.
It’s not very often that you hear a slow finger picked bass intro, or a chord played on a bass, but here we are at Crooked Monsters. It’s a full-blown slow burner, which reminds me of some kind of mix between a Metallica and Limp Bizkit ballad. No Dad/Grandad vibes here though as the song picks up some grunt, and we hear vocals wail melodically over the heavy wrung out guitars.
Buried Underground bursts straight back into a solid, heavy groove before breaking into some triplet chugs and swinging us into the first verse. The song shifts pace back and forth, and we start to hear multiple vocals bouncing from right to left in the mix. I love this mixing technique as it gives the lyrics the feeling of call and response.
Dad seems to be something about some bloke that wasn’t much of a dad. Seems like a bit of an album filler, this one. I mean, it’s kind of cool in a way, but just doesn’t really jump out at me like some of the earlier tracks have. The last riff which takes us into the outro did prick my ears up a little, but at the same time seemed a little forced.
Thundering drums, heavy chugs and the odd guitar squark lay down the intro for Ihenga. I’ve been mostly enjoying this album, and as much as I love the integration of tribal groove, it is starting to feel a little overused. The track is instrumental for the first 3 minutes until we start to hear tribal chants take over the song. Following this, we get some stock standard whammy squeals, then back into the tribal chants to finish the song.
The album closer is titled Down The Rabbit Hole, which scares me because I’ve lost a few mates down there lately. I’d like to think, and hope, that this has nothing to do with those type of current happenings, but seriously, who the fuck am I kidding. But here’s my 2 cents anyway … FCK CRNA, in the Rabbit Hole. Oh yeah, this track has some cool Whammy stuff in it as well.
Well then, this album really drew me in to begin with, and it reminded me somewhat of Sepultura’s Roots and the first few Soulfly albums due to its heavy tribal over tones. Like most non-English albums, it didn’t keep my attention though, as none of them do. I guess I just like to be able to understand the lyrics of the songs, otherwise I have trouble connecting with them. It also made it a little hard to sit through the whole album as the formula does
start to sound a little repetitive towards the tail end.
It’s a great sophomore release for such a young band, and I’d really like to see what they come up with next. Maybe if the filthy rona fucks off, they can jump the ditch and come for a visit!